We always pray that each new year will be a time of great blessings, better than the last. Holy Church understands our need for hope and blessings. She festoons our year’s feasts with special constitutive blessings and sacramentals to help us along.

Constitutive blessings establish things or persons as a blessed or consecrated (eg, sacred objects such as holy water, rosaries, chalices, priests, some Religious, consecrated virgins, etc). Invocative blessings call God’s favour upon things or persons for spiritual or temporal wellbeing without changing the nature of the person or thing (eg, foods, creatures, children, climbing equipment, etc). Some blessings tear the thing or person from the grip of the Prince of this World, the Devil, and make them sacred in an abiding way. They do not lose their sacred character unless they are desecrated. Other blessings do not change the character, but ask God to increase their wellbeing or usefulness.

Speaking of blessings, we have lovely seasonal blessings in our Latin Church to confer at Epiphany. Keep in mind that real Epiphany remains on January 6. Various bishops’ conferences have determined that you apparently have enough to do in your lives during the week and, hence, you shouldn’t have to rearrange anything quotidian to allow time to participate at Holy Mass. Ergo, they transfer your Epiphany obligation to Sunday, which is already a day of obligation. But I digress.

On the Vigil of Epiphany we can bless Epiphany water with mighty prayers. I wrote about that in 2014. We can also bless, for obvious symbolic reasons, gold, frankincense and myrrh. Take all your myrrh to Father to bless on Epiphany. We also bless chalk, which is then used to mark the doors of dwellings with the year of our salvation.

A common thread in these seasonal Epiphany blessings is our longing for health in body and the protection of our souls. For example, when blessing the aforementioned three symbolic gifts of the Magi, Father prays: “May those who use you, with confidence in the divine power, in their lodgings, homes, or on their persons, be delivered from all perils to body and soul, and enjoy all good things.”

Ask your priests and bishops about the special seasonal blessings which decorate our holy days. They connect us in tradition to our forebears, across borders and conditions in the present, and, in holy hope, to our future lived in God’s good graces.

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